Early arrivals to Forum 2018, numbering approximately 100, were treated to a highly focused panel discussion in “Purchasing Printing/Converting Equipment: Flexo’s New Market Scenario.” Discussion lasted two full hours and was moderated by OMET America Inc’s Claudio Semenza and Doug Bartlett, Multi-Color Corp. Emphasis was placed on continually advancing technology, hybridization, automation and marrying existing and new talent to an ever-evolving production environment.
Mike Rottenborn, HYBRID Software, encouraged listeners to “Drive business. Grow revenue. Decrease human error and touchpoints.” His message: “Decisions of today can make or break the operation.” He suggested formulating practical implementation plans that look five years forward and described that time period as a logical equipment upgrade schedule.
“Move your business into the future! Look at expanded gamut (EG) printing, sleeves and pouches, blending traditional craft production with data-driven automation. Do so, but don’t lose sight of total cost of ownership.”
Preston Neetzel, Koenig & Bauer (KBA-Flexotecnica) suggested printers hold semi-annual vendor days to brainstorm ways to grow the operation. “Smart equipment boosts productivity. Dial it all in,” he said.
“Be analytical. Address opportunities with alternative technologies. Establish and adhere to standard operating procedures (SOPs). Print to the numbers. Equipment options today make that possible.” According to Neetzel, “The press represents your largest opportunity for advancement, but it’s essential to look at ancillary equipment as well. It is the foundation for an effective capital expenditure plan.”
Matt Condon, Domino pointed to the importance of finishing assets and finding the fit with flexo. Urging all present to examine every factor influencing business today, from short runs and expanding SKUs, to customization and personalization of print; he suggested converters view flexo and digital as complementary technologies and act accordingly. Results, he implied, could prove surprising, bring in new business, establish expanded capabilities and strengthen the print shop’s reputation for quality output.
Simon Gross, Converting Equipment International, expressed similar thoughts. He called on all present to “combine embellishments.” Then said, “Automation at the end of the day is the correct response to our current workforce challenges.” The task he outlined: “Make printing fun. Bring excitement to the process—it could be offline, inline, hybrid—the idea is to run once through the press and be done. That means combining digital in a conventional world and taking things to the next level.”
Commenting on what to look for in matching talent and technology, Gross maintained the best hire can come from within. Characteristics he insisted printers look for: “Hungry… Humble… Smart.”
Mark Turk, International Label & Printing Co described how his firm expanded its arsenal, brought in digital technologies, followed up with hybrid integration and found its flexo output rising as a result. He laid out factors to consider when making a similar move and pointed to decision No. 1 being the print engine. From there, inline vs. offline converting options must be considered. Solutions can be simple and surprising.
Turk, too, believed finding the exact right fit to the operation to be most essential.